Currently, the region also faces serious and complex transnational security threats including financing terrorism, violent extremism, cyber crime, trafficking in humans and drugs, Commander Abebe Muluneh, Director General of IGAD Security Sector Program said.
Commander Abebe told journalists on Saturday that Al-Shabaab, Al-Qaeda’s affiliated militant group in the Horn of Africa, has long been perceived as a Somali terrorist organization but now posed a stern security threat to the wider IGAD region.
However, at least since 2010, Al-Shabaab has aspired to become a truly regional threat, with membership and horizons that transcend national borders, the commander stated.
“Al shabab is trying to recruit members from non-Somalis from our regions and its transnational and national boarders effort to attack in other territories like Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and the like that almost all states in the IGAD region are victims of threat,” he pointed out.
Noting that international terrorists have sought the IGAD region as particularly safe haven for their operation since the 1990s, the major threats come from Al-Shabaab especially from Jaysh Ayman, a transnational military wing fighting against Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
Even losing after several cities and towns, Al-Shabaab still controls large swathes territory and taxes trade and businesses to fund its operation and it continues to carry out a complex attacks in the region even against the 22,000 strong African Union to Somalia (AMISOM) and other East African countries’ forces including Ethiopia.
“The group is active in six countries Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda and Tanzania. Al-Shabab has repeatedly been striking five of them excluding Ethiopia. The only country that has not been targeted to date is Ethiopia in the East African countries from those terrorist attacks,” he said.
Acknowledging another potential threat from the Islamic (ISIS) in the Horn African region after it has lost its final stronghold in Middle East, recently the group has been shipping foreign fighters and arms from Yemen to Somalia.
Following this embryonic security threat, IGAD has come up with a new strategy by revisiting its approach that focuses in conflict prevention, resolution and cooperation against transnational security threats, governance in the Horn African region,” the Director indicated.
He added IGAD is now pursuing interlinked approach to address the transnational security threat through its Security Sector Program to address the challenges holistically, he underscored.
Director for Organized and Emerging Crime at Interpol, Paul Stanfield, on his part said IGAD region is the hot spot of human smuggling and trafficking activities which is making terrorism more complicated.
Stanfield argued, however, organized transnational security threats and crimes are not only a unique feature of Horn Africa, which needs now a global response equally.
He pledged that Interpol will give the necessary assistance for the efforts of IGAD member countries to fight against transnational security threats.
“Specially, we will support them in collection and dissemination of good information and better analysis of the issues also access to share profile for missing people with DNA, figure prints on the movement of people aboard, securing communication net works and so many different capabilities.”